Since this is called The Self Pub Hub, I'm assuming most readers are here because of the enticing path of doing their own thing. So I'm going to go a little deeper on the pessimistic track and expound on some of the harsh realities and hard truths of this decision.
The aim isn't to discourage, but rather to set proper expectations. Next post will have all the happy-fun stuff, promise!
HARD TRUTH #1: THERE WILL BE NO ESCAPING HARD WORK
This is effectively the message from the first post. No matter what path you take, sooner or later you're going to have dig in, grit your teeth, and endure the grind. And not just once. For a while. A long while. Similar to how you're not going to get buff by going to the gym for a month, you're not going to realize your writing dreams without years of dedicated effort. Years, yo. Complete with ups, downs, disappointment, joys, sacrifice.
The key is to structure things so that you enjoy the overall process more (even a teeny bit) than you dislike it. More on that later.
HARD TRUTH #2: YOU ALMOST CERTAINLY WON'T GET RICH DOING THIS
I know I know, we all fantasize about Oprah stumbling across our underdog novel or whatever, or catching the right online wave at the right time… and while bursts of success can happen, it's a very unproductive and dangerous thing to assume that it will happen to you.
You love writing, right? If you can make a living doing what you love, then you've realized a level of human achievement that is probably more rare than simply being flush with cash. Making a decent living, whatever figure that means to you, should be the end goal. If, along the way, you're fortunate to monetize your platform or scale your fan base and sales in ways that add another zero to your income, then of course embrace it! But don't make it your aim.
The media and your peers will naturally highlight and overexpose stories about alleged rags to riches writer stories (JK Rowling being the darling example, in my opinion)—this is built right in to human nature and part of your job is to resist the sparkle and focus on simply improving yourself and attaining goals and milestones that are realistic. Else, you'll burn out and burn out fast.
At the time of drafting this post, I've estimated my Year To Date writing revenue from book sales to be about 15 cents per day (let's not even talk about the comparative costs). And I am delighted about that figure because the last time I ran such numbers, it was $0.08/day. If I can double the number every 3 months it'll take about 3 years before I'm pulling in a livable wage. Seems a reasonable thing to do versus hope that my next book goes hyperviral.